Thursday, April 07, 2005

You keep using that word...

So I'm scanning Drudge and come across this little gem: Bloggorhea "SOURCES: Warren Beatty to Blog!"
Consider, if you will, the following:

But to some, the rest of the press has been playing into Mr. Drudge’s hands. His former political friend David Brock, who runs the Web site Media Matters for America, compiled a 33-page dossier on Mr. Drudge, bullet-pointing his many alleged distortions and misreports.

"We try to function not as a Drudge, but as an anti-Drudge," he said via e-mail, "which leaves plenty of room for a progressive knock-off of Drudge."

Mr. Brock said he saw a place for Ms. Huffington’s project.

"I think it’s long overdue," he said. "I’ve always felt that progressives have information and another entity could be fed. I think it could be very successful."

This is not the point of the article, of course. Please read the whole thing if you are interested in "The Huffington Report", an attempt to make a liberal version of the Drudge Report. (I liked that idea last time when it was called "Air America")

I'm sure people have noticed this, but I haven't heard anyone talk about it. Democrats are trying to market liberalism as "progressivism". Certainly there was some of this before the election last year, but I've been noticing it more and more. They try to sneak it in there as if a perceived negative connotation is their only problem. After all, who could argue against progress?

The progressive movement has surfaced in America before:

Progressive reformers sought to remedy the problems created by industrialization and urbanization. To progressives, economic privilege and corrupt politics threatened democracy. Never a cohesive movement, progressivism embraced many types of reform. Progressives strove, variously, to curb corporate power, to end business monopolies, and to wipe out political corruption. They also wanted to democratize electoral procedures, protect working people, and bridge the gap between social classes. Progressives turned to government to achieve their goals. National in scope, progressivism included both Democrats and Republicans. From the 1890s to the 1910s, progressive efforts affected local, state, and national politics. They also left a mark on journalism, academic life, cultural life, and social justice movements.
-"United States (History)," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005 © 1997-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved

That sounds great! After all, Progressives supported labor and election reform, which were real problems around the turn of century. Unions did indeed have their place and purpose at one time in American history. Bridging the gap between social classes reads as "redistribution of wealth" to me, but certainly the destitutely poor were much worse off in the early 20th century, right? Like modern liberals they used government to achieve their goals. However, I like the way progressives supported a strong military, power projection and dollar diplomacy. They were not afraid of capitalism.

In order to get anything done, especially with business regulation, they needed to have support on the national level. Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft helped with that, although Taft was more conservative. Progressivism reached its peak during Woodrow Wilson’s first term as president. In 1913 Wilson signed the Underwood Tariff, which reduced taxes on imported goods. The bill also included an income tax, permitted by the new 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Income tax, brought to you by progressivism!

Progressives were full of good ideas for reforming the US, but that darn Constitution kept getting in the way. Their earliest idea (although last enacted) was what really did them in though: the temperance movement. There was an overwhelming outcry against the dangers of intoxicating liquors from the early 19th century on to the ratification of 18th Amendment in 1919:

Some progressive reformers supported causes that had a coercive or repressive dimension, such as Prohibition, a movement to prevent the manufacture, sale, or use of alcohol. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), founded in 1874, had long campaigned against alcohol. In 1895 the Anti-Saloon League of America joined the crusade. Together they worked to gain support for the 18th Amendment, which provided for Prohibition. The amendment was ratified in 1919 and remained law until 1933, when the 21st Amendment repealed it. Progressive moral fervor also emerged in campaigns to combat prostitution and to censor films. Finally, some progressives endorsed other restrictive causes, now seen as ungenerous or inhumane, such as a campaign against immigration or support for eugenics, a movement to control reproduction in order to improve the human race.

Organized crime and Planned Parenthood, brought to you by progressivism!

The progressive movement has done some things I like, to be sure, and has had it's place in history. The Great White Fleet? The Panama Canal? The National Park Service? The Suffrage movement? Sure, those are all great. And there have been some less than desirable things that have come out of it, too. But to tie it all together, modern liberals are not progressives. They chose the euphemism because it sounds like they are for progress when in fact they have their priotrities very screwed up. They say they are progressives because they are afraid of being called liberals. I say, who gives a shit what people think? Be a liberal and be proud of it; stop trying to hide what you are, just come up with some better ideas! One day someone is going to look up progressivism and find out you aren't it.



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